Text: Thomas H. Chivers to Edgar Allan Poe — September 9, 1845


Oaky Grove, Ga., Sept. 9th, 1845.

My Dear Friend, — I have just received your letter, dated the 29th of August. What can you be thinking about to ask me what I could have been thinking about, when I referred to the letter I wrote from Philadelphia, and also from this place, immediately after my return home ? You say rightly when you suppose that I “have been in Dreamland ! “Where could I have been to have supposed, for a moment, that you would have sent me on the papers containing any of your pieces, as I requested ? I acknowledge to you, frankly, that I have been in Paradise ever since I returned home. It is Paradise all about here where my wife is. I dream mighty dreams in her presence sometimes. I will tell you one of them some of these days. Her footsteps pave the world with happiness — that is, the world wherein I live. You say I “puzzle” youin regard to the money. It is no “puzzle” at all. I should have sent you the money in my last letter, had I received it two days sooner. I received $200 the next day after my return home, which I lent to a friend of mine immediately afterwards, who has not been able to return it to me since. As soon as returns from Green County, where he is now gone with his wife to see her relations, and have another child during their absence, I will send it to you — as he is owing me a great deal not only of estates, but borrowed moneys. I am sorry that I cannot accommodate you at present, as it would give me great pleasure to do so. I will send it to you as soon as possible, but to you alone. You are always talking to me about the “paper.” “Cuss”the paper ! what do I care for the “paper” ? The “paper “will do me no more good than it will any body else. I have no interest in it — it is in your individualwelfare and happiness that I have an interest — an abiding, disinterested, heartborn interest — although I should like to see the paper flourish, as it would be an interest to you. For Heaven’s sake ! do not connect my respect for you with any worldlymatter — as it does not belong to the world at all. I see plainly that you do not know me. I would not let you have a cent for any other consideration than the heartborn respect which I feel for you, as your friend — one who desires, from the bottom of his heart, your welfare and happiness, in every respect whatever. My dear Poe ! you must not practice lip service with me — you must talk from the bottom of your heart when you talk to me. I am your friend, and, therefore, whenever I talk to you, it is out of the substance of my heart. It is an absolute waste of time, as well as a sin against God, to talk any other way. It is of no use for you ever to attempt to flatter me, as I am just as far above it as Heaven is above the hot burning bottom of Hell. I believe that you are my friend — therefore I cannot believe that you would put yourself to the trouble to do such a losing business. For, supposing that I was fool enough to receive it, it would do you no good, at the same time that it would be doing an injury to me. This, I know, you would not do. I will aid you, and assist you in every way possible, but I will do it only for the friendship which I have for you. You say that you have looked for the “Commercial Bank of Florida”for me. I wish you would do all you can immediately, and let me know upon the reception of this letter. I must have it before the first of October, orI will lose $210. It is for my brother who let me have that amount four years ago, which I took with me to New York, and knowing it was not worth anything, I gave it to my children to play with, until it got destroyed. As soon as he found out this, when we were making a settlement for the hire of my negroes, he made out like he wantedit. I told him that I would get him the same amount on the day that his note becomes due — which is the first of October — or deduct the amount of the Florida money he let me have out of it. So, you see, if I do not get it, I will lose $210. I must hear from you immediately so that I can have time to write to the Governor of Florida to get it for me. You must go immediately,upon the reception of this letter, into Wall Street, and see what you can do, I was distracted about home just before I left, else I would have gotten it myself. I was labouring under mental excitement all the time I was in that place so that I could neither talk nor write whenever I saw you. I am just as different now as if I were not the same man. My Poems have been spoken of in the very highest terms in this state by all who have seen them. Several papers have republished your notice, at the same time that you were spoken of in the highest terms. They have praised the “Heavenly Vision,” and the Poem “To Isa Singing,”beyond measure. The Editor of the “Southern Courant,”who has spoken well of them, is a gentleman of splendid talents, — so is the Editor of the “Federal Vision,“ of Milledgeville. Passages in the “Lost Pleiad”have been very much lauded. Some like the “Soul’s Destiny; “ ”To Allegra Florence in Heaven; “ ”To My Mother in Heaven,”and the Poem on “Hearing Van Weber’s Last Waltz.”I see that the papers everywhere are speaking disrespectfully of Willis’ puerilities and dilletantism. I really think well of “Luciferian Revelation,“ and want you to publish it soon, and send me the paper. I am writing a Poem you will like. “The Release of Fiommala,” I like. One ofthe other Sonnets I have altered a little, I think for the better. They were written right out of my heart, as I write everything. Poetry, with me, is the melodious expression of my very being. Tell Colton I sent him an article some time ago, but had no way to pay the postage, as I gave it to the Stage Driver in the road. Give him my love, for he is a tine fellow in every sense of the word. I intend to get him several subscribers in these parts soon — he may depend on that.

The remarks which I made to you in regard to Tennyson’s Poems, were not intended to be critical, as I was too much fatigued always when I saw you to talk as I could were you with me now. “The Gardener’s Daughter;” “Recollections of the Arabian Nights; “ and “Locksley Hall,”are the best. He is a lofty imitator of Shelley, without a titheof his force. He possesses fine ideality, but there is too much conventional grotesqueness of abandon, with too littleartistical skill, in him to be compared with Shelley. If you think he is even a musical imitator of Shelley, just get his Poems and disabuse your mind at once. He has fine ideality, but not the artistical force of Horne. One of his greatest and unpardonable faults consists in his not appealing, in any understandablelanguage, to any of the most universal feelings of the heart of Man. He does not sing Truth — that Angel-mission for the fulfilment of which the Poet was sent down by God out of Heaven. Poetry is the most godlike expression of that which is most true. It is, therefore, the loftiest medium of the most exalted truths.

You intimate that you will take a fraternal interest in my welfare and farm, but wish to do it in your “own way.” Thisis what I wish. I do not wish to urge you into any remarks you may deem it necessary to make about my writings. I feel confident you will do what is right, — Amen.

You say you have not touched a drop of the ashes of Hell since I left New York. That’s a man. For God’s sake, but morefor your own, never touch another drop.Why should a Man whom God, by nature, has endowed with such transcendent abilities, so degrade himself into the veriest automaton as to be moved only by the poisonous steam of Hell-fire ? Your body is a harp — not an evil-spirit-engine -made by the hands of God, in the most perfect manner, to be stricken by the spiritual fingers of your Heaven-born soul. Why, it is absolutely making monkey-motions at the dignity of God, as revealed in your own nature, to permit an animal appetite to weigh down the dove-like and Heaven-aspiring wings of that Angel of immortality which now lives in the temple of your body, — the delight and glory of the world.

You speak of Books sent — but I have seen none. I wrote for Bush’s Psychological work, recently published by Bidding.

You say “I am resolved not to touch adrop,” &c. Did you mean by this that if you touched many dropsthat you would not be impinging upon your promise? Think of this.

Give your wife and Mrs. Clemm my most earnest desire for their welfare and happiness, My wife sends them her sincerest love. Send me any paper that contains anything of yours. If you don‘t, I am determined to play Old Dick with you — if possible.Give my love to Bisco. Tell him I will give him a hearty shake of the hand when I return to Novum Eboracum, alias Sodom. Give my love to Colton. I have just finished eating one of the finest watermelons I ever saw,

“Sweet as that soul-uplifting hydromel
Ideian Ganymede did give to Jove
In the God-kingdoms of immortal love,
Dipt from Heaven’s everlasting golden well,” etc.

This is the commencement of a “Sonnet on Reading Milton’s Paradise Lost,”which I will send you some of these days. I have been trying to send you some peaches, but never could find the opportunity. I write this letter in great haste, and on bad paper — you must excuse the carelessness with which it is written, as I have scarcely time before the mail is closed. For God’s sake, if you have the least respect for me, get the Florida money. When you go down to Wall street, inquire at the Express office 27 there is anypackage for me.Tell the P. M. to send me all letters and papers in the office here. Do all this, will you ?

God bless you.
Thos. H. Chivers.

E. A. Poe, Esq.





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Misc - Letters - T. H. Chivers to Poe (RCL564)